The most important thing the modern parent can do is shed fear and worry in order to make themselves trustworthy resources for their children. This means that when we focus our hearts and minds on who our children are and what interests them, without an agenda, then it is possible to deepen the parent-child bond in truth. And the truth is that with all the apps and devices; with all the potential undue influence implied from cyberbullying to addiction and exploitation, what we really care about is what interests our children and why.
Without this genuine interest in how your child’s childhood is informing him, it will not be possible to impart your wisdom. We all know that people do not care about what you know until they know you care. This could not be more true for the parent-child relationship. And cyber-powered connectivity enables the concealing of what is really happening in our children’s cyber social realms – so the smart play of the modern parent is to simply get interested and listen.
Youth pastor, Dan Britton, of Crossroads Community Church in Rocklin knows all too well the pain of the disconnect of the parent-child bond in a cyber-powered world that hypes seeking altered states through drugs and alcohol as the “place to be.” As a pastor he listens to teens talk about their personal struggles and has himself as teenager overcome issues with drug and alcohol abuse. In his book, How to counsel teens with drug and alcohol problems: A pastor’s perspective, Britton offers insights for the modern parent.
Brittin’s tips for talking with teens about using drugs and alcohol
- First, understand why kids seek altered states –in their own words, not yours. Are they seeking to self medicate in that they lack the skills to cope with anxiety, or are they responding to a genuine condition that needs medication?
- Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms. It is easy to dismiss signs as phases or normal teenage angst.
Brittin’s strategies to talk about substance use and abuse
- Choose the right time. Do not try to have a conversation when your teen is stressed or under the influence. Wait until they are sober and you are calm.
- Be direct and compassionate. Don’t touch around the subject. Come out with your concerns in a way that will invite your teen to talk about what is happening in their life that compels them to seek altered states.
- Dealing with lying. It is normal for people abusing drugs and alcohol to lie about it. Deception is part of the strategy to keep using. Your reaction should be resolute about expecting honesty, but not emotional and judgmental about it. When you encounter lies and deceptive tactics, such as “the smoke is from other people” offer your reasoning and evidence to the contrary. Do not allow the deception to trump the truth.
- Have a treatment plan in advance. This is the hope you bring into engaging your teen about their issues. It is your confidence in their ability to find their power to overcome undue influence and make an abundant life.
The role of God in recovery
Addiction is a form of bondage of the soul that in order to be free, requires individuals to choose to turn their lives over to a higher power. While this cannot be done by the parent, it can be encouraged with good treatment and counseling and a confident praying parent heart. Ultimately the person suffering has to make the choice to change from within by the grace of God. Confronting addiction requires the individual to navigate their inner world and reconnect with God’s love – which cannot be purchased or hurried because God always works with the willing heart and mind. In this regard, the recovery process engages the intellect and will of the afflicted person; it is a choice that always belongs to the individual, and it offers a liberation and spiritual maturity that cannot be faked, nor stolen. This is the hope for parents loving children through addiction. (Jeremiah 31:16-17).
For more on parenting in truth, go to: Fresh Start
For more helping teens with drug and alcohol issues go to: Therapeutic Solutions 360.